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Dana N. Vitrano, Psy.D., is a 2020 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Martha B. Straus, PhD, Committee Chair
  • George Tremblay, PhD, Committee Member
  • William Hafford, PsyD, Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2020

Abstract

This dissertation explored the impact of spending time in nature on therapist levels of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction for office- and nature-based therapists. While the study mainly focused on office-based therapists, a sample of nature-based therapists were included for exploratory purposes as they constitute a unique niche of mental health workers who combine traditional talk therapy methods and the healing properties of nature. The literature is reviewed within an ecopsychology frame, key terms are defined, and nature’s impact on mental health and wellbeing is explored. One hundred fifty participants (124 office-based, 26 nature-based) were included in this study. They completed the Professional Quality of Life scale, which examined levels of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction, as well as a series of demographic questions. They were also asked about the amount of time they spend outside, and how they like to use that time. Utilizing Spearman’s correlation, there was a significant negative correlation between time spent in nature and compassion fatigue for office-based therapists. There was no relationship between compassion satisfaction and time in nature for office-based therapists. Similarly, there was no significant relationship between compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction between the office- and nature-based groups. Post-hoc analyses were conducted to explore additional findings, such as the relationship between geography and time in nature. The results of this study contribute to the literature on the positive impact of spending time in nature on wellbeing, as well as the potential benefit of spending time in nature as a self-care strategy for therapists.

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Dana N. Vitrano

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0001-6678-6331

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